Letter to the Class of 2020,
First, I want to say congratulations on your hard work over the past two years! Hygiene school is stressful and challenging, and you have survived. What should be a time of exams, graduation and celebrations, has now become a time of uncertainty, frustration and mass confusion. I want you to know, you are not alone. Don’t let this situation rob you of your accomplishments!
Let me remind you… You will graduate (with or without a ceremony), you will become licensed, and you will join the thousands of other Registered Dental Hygienists working in the great state of Colorado!
I’ve heard some students questioning their career path, in light of COVID and some of the social media posts they are reading. Let me say this, don’t let frustrated professionals strip you of your dream! Their experience does not have to be your own experience. You are about to join a wonderful profession that offers personal rewards, growth opportunities and community.
Whether you want to work in private practice (developing relationships with your patients over the course of years), public health (providing care to the underserved), start your own clinic (maybe a mobile option that goes to your patients) or maybe even work in a hospital setting (preventing dental emergencies/pain in the very sick and immunocompromised), your options in Colorado are numerous. This is truly an exciting time to join the oral health profession, especially in Colorado.
I’m not sure that there has ever been a time of growth in oral health as we are seeing now. When you decide to grow beyond the education you have received up to this point, you can become certified in myofunctional therapy and interim therapeutic restorations (ITR), or dive into the research on the oral microbiome and the effects on the body. You can choose to engage in expanding our scope of practice through the legislative process or you can grow as a leader both in your work setting and through opportunities available through CODHA and ADHA.
Finally, the dental community in Colorado is a wonderful community! You may find your perfect “work home” right away, or maybe you will gain some experience in a few offices before you settle down. You do not have to settle for a job in a place you don’t like. If it’s not a good fit, chalk it up to experience and find a better fit. Additionally, CODHA provides community and support to hygienists across the state. Utilize the association and the connections you will make here to support you in your profession.
This is not the first time that Oral Health has been rocked by a virus. In the early 1980’s, the AIDS/HIV epidemic prompted significant changes to our PPE. Practitioners that worked during that time have said the gloves were uncomfortable and hard to get used to. Now, the gloves are comfortable and we don’t give them a second thought. I imagine some of the PPE changes that COVID-19 will trigger will be similar.
As your President of CODHA, I can say that the dentists and hygienists in Colorado have a wonderful relationship. Yes, there are offices where this is not the case, but in general there is mutual respect and the role of the dental hygienist is a valued one among other professionals and our patients. I am proud to be a dental hygienist, excited about the opportunities in Colorado and ready to accept the challenges this new pandemic is creating. I’m excited that you will be my fellow colleagues! And hopefully we can all get to work in the very near future!
Becky Comstedt, RDH, BS
P.S. Please consider minimizing your time on social media right now, there is a lot of raw frustration and emotion that is not beneficial to finding a solution during this time. Please visit www.CODHA.org/COVID-19/ for information.
ADHA President Matt Crespin’s Message to Students:
NOTE: MUST BE A STUDENT MEMBER OF ADHA holding a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Response shall be 1000 to 1500 words and shall have no personally identifying information (name and contact information on a separate cover page please). The panel of reviewers will base their grade for each submission on a rubric (of scores 1-5) using the following criteria: Grammar, Feasibility, Flow & Content, Creativity, and Logical & meaningful response. Please submit essay to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Friday May 15th, 2020. With each eligible response, a submission form will be returned within 24 hours requiring for your signature to participate. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION!
Advice from a Young Professional for Upcoming 2020 Graduates
Tell a little bit about your early professional journey.
My professional career in dentistry started with me working as dental assistant in offices with different specialties, including general dentistry, orthodontics, oral and implant surgery. I learned a great deal about dental anatomy and various dental procedures before I even started my education in dental hygiene. Working for different employers gave me a chance to observe the different ways to approach patient treatment while still delivering excellent patient care. At the same time, I learned that not every office follows OSHA regulations the same way, which ultimately compromises patient care. I learned that work dynamics vary from office to office, how to spot the signs of a toxic work environment, and how a friendly work environment supports effective team communication. All of my previous experiences gave me a foundational understanding of the kind of dental clinic I wanted to work at and what kind of health care provider I wanted to be.
Where did you study dental hygiene? When did you graduate?
I received my dental hygiene education from Parkland College’s Dental Hygiene Program, in Champaign, IL. After graduating in May 2019, I moved to Colorado to enjoy the endless sunshine and outdoor activities.
How did you prepare for your interviews?
The goals of my dental hygiene program were not only to equip future dental hygienists with excellent skills, but also to prepare us to be attractive candidates on the job market after graduation. For example, we prepared our resumes during the final semester and learned the process of obtaining a professional license well in advance. However, the most valuable knowledge regarding the job market came from dental hygiene forums on Facebook. During the duration of my dental hygiene program I skimmed the posts to learn what dental hygienists around the country loved about their careers and, sometimes more importantly, what made them leave their practices.
I collected and used that information to prepare for my future job interviews. I created a list of 22 questions that I planned to ask my potential employer. The list included questions about specific duties that were expected from me, protocols for patient treatment, employee benefits, etc. I spent a significant amount of time thinking about questions that would help me find an office that shares my values. I researched the dental offices prior to the interviews to learn more about the practitioners and the clinic’s reputation in the community. That’s something else I learned from the experiences of other dental hygienists: show your employer that you are prepared for and earned the job you’re interviewing for!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Although I was well prepared for my verbal interview, I did not put enough thought into my working interview and that was a mistake. The advice I would give to my younger self is to request a detailed walkthrough of the operating room the day before the scheduled working interview. Especially being a left-handed clinician in a room designed for a right-handed clinician, I needed to determine the most ergonomic ways to adjust/rotate the patient chair, where to plug in the cords, where to put the instrument tray, etc. All those small details that I took for granted during my years of comfortable practice in my dental hygiene program were very different in the real world. Not every dental office designs the rooms in an ergonomic way for dental hygienists and that can make or break a working interview.
Finally, the biggest piece of advice I would provide is not to accept the first job offer that comes your way without considering other offices and taking the time to ensure the practice is a good fit for you. I know that as a new graduate without prior experience it is much harder to find the perfect job, however keep searching to find a dental practice that shares your values, and will allow you to grow as a caring professional!
Best of luck,
Zebo Schafer, RDH
Sample Interview Questions & Answers: By Zebo Schafer, RDH
- Office Manager – name
- Dentist – name
- Dental Hygienist – name
- Dental Assistant – name
- Which days and hours will I work?
- How many patients per day will I see?
- How long are hygiene appointments:
- For an adult prophylaxis?
- For a new patient?
- For a non-surgical periodontal therapy?
- What is the protocol for X-Rays?
- What equipment do you use?
- What is the protocol in your office if a patient:
- Cancels or doesn’t show up for their appointment?
- Is late 15 minutes or more?
- Do you expect the DH to clock out in this case?
- Clocking out is illegal – “engaged to wait” under the US Department of Labor. ***
- What other duties am I expected to perform when I do not have a patient?
- What are other daily duties to share among the other members of the team (DH, DA.)
- What is the protocol for sterilizing the instruments?
- Do I get a lunch break and for how long?
- Do I get other breaks throughout the day?
- What is the protocol for a patient with an active form of cold sore/ fever blister from Herpes Simplex Virus? ***
- What is the protocol for patient referrals to specialists? Ex. periodontist?
- What instruments do DHs use?
- What sickles:
- What curettes:
- Ultrasonic scaler for every patient?
- Diode Laser?
- What is the protocol for dull instruments and how often are they being replaced?
- What is the protocol for sharpening instruments?
- Who is in charge of my schedule? Am I expected to fill my schedule with patient appointments?
- Do you have an Office Manual For Policies and Procedures?
- How do you conduct performance reviews? How often?
- What are the employee benefits?
- Do you offer:
- CE – paid?
- 401K Plan? Contributions?
- Sick days?
- Vacation days? Specific guidelines?
- Personal days?
- What time does everybody arrive?
- Do you offer parking?
Institute for Oral Health Video: Howard Notgarnie (Click here.)
Capitol Day Video
CODHA Capitol Day 2020 was a Huge Success!
Capitol Day 2020 was held on Thursday, February 27th. A group of dental hygienists visited the state capitol with the purpose to engage lawmakers and to lobby their support for any upcoming legislation that effects the practice of dental hygiene. This is especially important right now since the bills for both silver diamine fluoride and ITR (interim therapeutic restoration) are set to sunset in 2021. Colorado’s Dental Practice Act is unique and allows hygienists licensed here to administer local anesthetics, practice unsupervised dental hygiene and grants some limited prescriptive authority. Along with these exciting professional privileges, Colorado has one of the first and most robust laws for medical/dental integration. I feel especially lucky to be a licensed hygienist in Colorado. I cannot imagine practicing anywhere else! In fact, during a recent visit by ADHA’s executive team to Colorado, Ann Batrell (CEO of ADHA) described how she frequently brags about us here in Colorado for having some of the greatest practice laws in the country! Capitol Day has been an important part of making Colorado so special, I hope to provide a brief overview of our exciting day at the Capitol.
Our day began with lunch with one of our State Representatives, Lois Landgraff. Representative Landgraff has been an ardent supporter of the profession of dentistry ever since she was newly elected to the House of Representatives and attended COMOM in 2017. She described her experience there as really eye opening, as she had no idea there was that much need for dental care in the state. Another way she has supported the practice of dentistry and dental hygiene is by sponsoring the recent Dental Practice Act reorganization bill, which was just signed into law by Governor Polis in March! During lunch we had a round table where each hygienist described their roles and leadership within the community. It was humbling to be seated at the table with so many inspiring individuals!
After lunch we took a short tour of the Capitol building and were given the opportunity to sit in on several of the House Committee hearing meetings that took place in the afternoon. It was fascinating to see the process firsthand! A special thank you to the lobbyist team for Colorado Dental Hygienists’ Association, Dianna Orf, Betsy Murray and Kathy Oatis for organizing such an informative session and thank you to Rep. Landgraff for her time during the day and for her service to the state of Colorado.
Being a licensed healthcare professional comes with many professional privileges, which are granted by laws put forth by our legislators. Those legislators were influenced by many of our dental hygiene colleagues who came before us and advocated for those privileges. They have proven that we are knowledgeable and a very capable group of providers. Engaging with and educating our lawmakers is important because they rely on us to give them valuable information they need to make important decisions regarding statute. It was wonderful to be a part of such a dynamic group of dental hygienists at the capitol this year and I encourage all of you reading this article to participate next year and beyond. By coming together, it gives dental hygienists a voice in the process of how and what we are legally able to practice. We will provide information as soon as we are able regarding the date and time of Capitol Day 2021, and I hope to make next year even better with more representation from you, Colorado dental hygienists!
Meghan Crowe, RDH
CODHA and the 9Health Fair
Although the 9 Health Fair has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, CODHA wanted to share a resource: 9 Health Neighbors. This is available to help connect medical professionals who normally volunteer at 9 Health Fair events to neighbors who may have questions and need help.
Even though CODHA will not be able to volunteer at a traditional 9 Health event as planned, feel free to share this resource with your community.
Valerie Cuzella, RDH
CODHA and the Colfax Marathon
The impact of COVID-19 has reached a special event for many local charities. CODHA sadly reports that since the Colfax Marathon has been cancelled, we will not be able to sponsor the charities of our choice via the Marathon.
Please, reach out to the impacted charities on the Colfax Marathon website https://www.runcolfax.org/ as their needs will still be great over the next year. The officials at Colfax Marathon are hoping to have the event later this year. Please, again, see their site for updates.
CODHA will plan to be there later this year or next year, in the hopes that the unprecedented reason for the cancellation will be long behind us.
Teresa Ramirez, RDH
Public Affairs Chairperson
Colorado Dental Hygienists’ Association
CODHA is excited to invite you to the Annual Walk for Sjogren’s on May 30, 2020
This will be the 2nd year that CODHA participates in a cause dear to our hearts and so close to our patient’s experiences!
The registration, Health Fair and Festivities begin at 9am and the Walk Step-Off starts at 10am at beautiful Hudson Gardens located at
6115 South Santa Fe, Littleton, CO 80120
Our CODHA Team page to sign up to walk or to make donations is located here: http://events.sjogrens.org/site/TR/Events/General?team_id=2261&pg=team&fr_id=1373
If the Walk is cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation, please make a donation to help the Sjogren’s Foundation continue their valuable work. Any amount is welcome and you may donate anonymously if you wish.
For questions or more information please reach out at : http://events.sjogrens.org/site/TR?fr_id=1373&pg=entry
Teresa Ramirez, RDH
Public Affairs Chairperson
Colorado Dental Hygienists’ Association
Public Health Education Opportunity:
I am Dr John Kretzschmar, Adjunct Faculty at the University of Montana School of Public and Community Health Sciences. I am a Public Health Dentist working clinically part time with the Indian Health Service as well as being involved in academics at UM. We offer a Certificate of Public Health consisting of four classes (12 total credits), one of which is aligned with a Global Oral Health theme. I would like to recruit potential students from around the dental community. For more information about the program, you can take a look at the UM program website: http://health.umt.edu/publichealth/
Dr John A. Kretzschmar DMD, MPH
Practitioner Faculty, University of Montana School of Public & Community Health Sciences
CODHA Digital Meetings:
Please join us Tuesdays from 4-5 pm, for our members only Zoom meet ups. This coming Tuesday is focused on wellness, anxiety management, and keeping our calm with a licensed counselor as a special guest! There is a 100 person limit but if we end up full we will record and post to our You Tube Channel.
Zoom link – Join URL: https://zoom.us/j/635165929
CODHA has a YOUTUBE Channel:
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGxXrMg2S2nP8Xfzo-FgnjQ/
” All rights to The Explorer are reserved. Any reproduction is strictly prohibited without prior permission of the editor and specific author. Neither the Editor nor CODHA are in any way responsible for articles of views published in The Explorer. A portion of your dues supports efforts to further protect, promote, and advance dental hygiene practice in the state of Colorado. This portion may not be tax deductible and is indicated as an assessment. CODHA does not endorse any specific products or services including those provided by exhibitors or advertisers used to promote an association activity or event.”